Nonprofit leaders need to be in control of their thoughts and emotions. This tool can help you be composed and confident.

Kathy Archer
6 min readNov 29, 2022

If you want to feel more competent, capable and sure of yourself in your leadership, you need to increase your self-confidence by learning to manage your thoughts.

To bounce back time and time again when the $#!t hits the fan 😩 you need a system that will help you regain your whirling thoughts and, thus, your confidence when you falter. We’ve been covering that system the last few weeks as you’ve been learning about pausing, pondering, pivoting and proceeding.

Leaders who can navigate the busy, stressful and difficult times AND come out on top rely on something inside of them. Their inner wisdom 🦉provides strength, insight, and stamina, not just to survive but to thrive.

Successful and confident leaders access that inner wisdom
by consciously tuning in to it.

The problem is we aren’t taught this stuff

Unfortunately, many of us are too busy or have never learned how to tune into our inner wisdom. As new leaders, we learned about scheduling shifts, what forms need filling out and when and how to do cover off.

We were not taught what to do when we were uncomfortable addressing something going wrong or how to deal with our emotions during a team meeting when everyone seemed to hate us. And many of us assumed it was something wrong with us. We weren’t cut out for leadership, were doing something wrong or alternately blamed it on the crappy staff we had.
❌ None of that was probably true, not completely.

We need to learn how to access our inner wisdom

What may be more accurate ✅ is that we have yet to learn how to communicate effectively as a leader, what to do with the voices in our head that doubt we can handle it or what to do with the anger when a comment at a staff meeting triggers us.

To help us learn that, we need a system to allow us to access our inner wisdom.
☑️ When you are about to enter a tough conversation and want to maintain your composure, your thoughts will help you do that.
☑️ When you struggle to get your work done and feel pulled in many directions, your inner wisdom will help you focus on what matters most when it matters most.
☑️ So you can convince yourself it’s ok to walk away from work and find balance with your life.

If you want to learn a system to help you tune into your inner wisdom, something you can use anytime and anywhere, then keep reading 👇🏻

​It’s time to find your internal compass

Leaders that learn to tune in and manage their thoughts and emotions develop courage, strength and skills to leave effectively and impactfully by accessing their inner wisdom or The Inner Guidance System.

Your Inner Guidance System is your internal navigational structure. Think of your Inner Guidance System as your personal GPS or as a compass 🧭

  • Your Inner Guidance System points you in the right direction.

Know Your Leadership Destination

But where are you going? Leadership is about taking people someplace. It is about moving your organization from here to there. That is your vision or destination. The destination could be something like:

  • better client service
  • building a more cohesive team
  • the offering of a new program or service

Your destination is about who you are becoming

More than organizational goals, your direction is about becoming the type of leader you want to be.

  • Do you want to be an authentic, compassionate and caring leader?
  • Do you want to lead with perseverance and determination?
  • Do you wish to be seen as a leader who pulls out the best in others and helps them grow?
  • Do you want to be known as an honest leader? A fair leader? A hopeful leader?
  • Do you want to be a balanced leader?
  • Do you want to be an inclusive leader who pulls teams together and shares responsibility and rewards?

The difference when you use your Inner Guidance System

👎🏻 Without tuning in, accessing your inner wisdom and using that internal compass to guide you, sadly, you’ll be stuck on completing your to-do list, attending meetings and returning emails instead of being your best self while doing all those things.

👍🏻 But when you tune in and access your inner wisdom, using that internal compass to guide you, you’ll be your best self 🙌🏻 when you complete your to-do list, attend meetings and return emails.

Follow the steps of your INNER GUIDANCE CYCLE

To access your Inner Guidance SYSTEM, follow the steps of the Inner Guidance CYCLE. The four steps, when repeated again and again, help you to make use of your internal wisdom. The steps of the INNER GUIDANCE CYCLE are as follows:

  1. PAUSE — Step back into THIS moment
  2. PONDER — Tune in to what is going on inside of you
  3. PIVOT — Shift your thoughts
  4. PROCEED — Move forward with intentionality

When you do the steps repeatedly, they provide insights that you need to move in the direction you want.

​​The Inner Guidance Cycle at work:

To begin getting acquainted with your wise inner self, PAUSE and start paying attention to what is happening inside you.

​Consider or PONDER what thoughts and feelings you have about people, challenges or outcomes you experience.

  • I can’t do this.
  • I am so overwhelmed.
  • This is crazy
  • I’m so angry
  • I feel frustrated
  • I’m embarrassed

You’ll also notice that those thoughts and feelings may be accompanied by certain sensations in your body, for example:

  • your face turns red 😳
  • your tummy tightens 😰
  • you get a tension headache 😵‍💫
  • you have sweaty palms or pits 💦

Your thoughts, feelings and sensations are signs of your Inner Guidance System at work. They are clues🕵️ to what is going on and how to regain your composure and become your best self.

Accessing the wisdom inside — An example

By tuning into what’s happening, you can shift how your thoughts or perspectives about the situation, how you handle it and how you feel about how you handle it.

👉 For example, perhaps you have a tough conversation coming up.

When you paused and tuned in (pondered), you may have noticed:

  • I’m feeling anxious
  • My stomach is in knots
  • I know it will not go well

But that isn’t the end of The Inner Guidance Cycle
The next step is the PIVOT step.
This step is about shifting your perspective. You shift your perspective by getting curious and asking yourself questions. You may ask yourself questions like:

  • How do I want to feel in this meeting?
  • What type of leader do I want to be?
  • What will help me feel that way and show up that way?

The answers you come up with could be something like:

  • I want to feel confident
  • I want to be seen as being fair.
  • If I plan out what I want to say, take a break, and go for a little walk before the meeting, I’ll feel more in control of my emotions and comfortable sharing the hard message I need to communicate.

This new insight helps you move forward or PROCEED

  • with more confidence
  • in a way that will feel more authentic and aligned with the type of leader you want to be
  • having the impact you desire on your team member

Accessing your inner wisdom via The Inner Guidance Cycle will help you navigate your to-do list and relationships while you manage your emotions and be your best self. To learn more about each step in The Inner Guidance Cycle, dive deeper with this article.

Originally published at



Kathy Archer

Helping women leaders make it in the nonprofit world. Leadership Development Coach * Best-Selling Author * Wife * Mom * Grandma * Mom to one boxer named Zeus!